LOS ANGELES (AP) - This was hardly a soft performance by Pau Gasol.
Unable to find the ball in the second halves of the first two games of the NBA finals, Gasol went out and got it Tuesday night in Game 3 of the NBA finals, right when it mattered most.
Gasol scored only nine points, but five came during the decisive stretch of the game, helping the Lakers to an 87-81 victory that cut Boston's lead to 2-1.
The Lakers' lead was down to three midway through the final quarter when Gasol tipped in a missed shot for a 75-70 lead. He then went up strong to grab the rebound of another miss and put it back in, making it 77-70 with 4:18 remaining.
After a basket by Paul Pierce, Gasol cut hard to the basket and was fouled. His free throw made it a six-points game and the Lakers stayed ahead from there.
Gasol averaged 16 points in the two games in Boston, but most came early in the game. He was limited to three points in the second half of Game 1, then had only four in the final 24 minutes Sunday.
Worse, he had been hearing the ``soft'' criticisms again, but he played tough in Game 3, grabbing 12 rebounds and helping contain Kevin Garnett, who shot just 6-of-21 from the field.
Gasol shot only 3-of-9, but the amount of made shots wasn't important - only the timing of them.

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